The Australian junior men’s team have taken out the 2022 IHF Trophy for Oceania in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, on Friday, qualifying to represent Oceania at the 2023 Junior World Championship.
The team, headed by coach Eoin Murray, won all four of their matches and now will also move onto the international stage of the IHF Trophy, where they will face other continental champions.
Australia started the tournament with a 30:28 win over New Caledonia. A seven-goal lead in the first half put Australia in complete control before New Caledonia struck back to narrow the margin and put high pressure on Australia. The Aussie team fought hard to hold back the late challenge and secure the vital first win. Tim McCourt and Christopher Fallah top-scored with seven goals each.
Australia followed-up the next day with a more convincing win over Tonga. After a slow start, against a solid Tongan defence, the Australians started to find a rhythm that set the teams apart. In the end, Australia comfortable winners 31:9. Canberra’s Nicholas Toze, in his first national team appearance, top-scored for the match with six goals.
In the third day of competition, the team defeated the host country Cook Islands 30-6. From the start, Australia’s dominated the game with strong defence and a string of fastbreaks. Once again Christopher Fallah of UTS Handball Club top scored with seven.
On Thursday and last day of the competition, Australia faced traditional rivals New Zealand, with both teams needing a win to secure the title. Once again the Australian juniors proved too strong taking out the match 29:18 and the championship title.
Sydney Uni’s Alejandro Peña and Brisbane HC’s Jacob Crook top-scored with eight goals each.
With four wins from as many matches, the team has now qualified to to represent Oceania at the Junior World Championship to be held next year in Greece and Germany. The next step, however, will be the IHF Intercontinental Trophy with dates and the host nation yet to be confirmed.
Alejandro Peña top scored for Australia in the tournament with 23 goals. Goalkeepers Daniel Reid finished the competition with an incredible 62% save ratio (61 stops from 98 shots faced) and Akhil Powar with 49% (22 saves from 45 shots).
Daniel Reid, who plays for the University of Queensland Handball Club, was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
Handball Australia congratulates the team and wishes them the best in the next stage of competition.
Eoin Murray (Coach)
Rodrigo Alvarez (Team Manager)
Scott Marshall (Assistant Coach)
Ane Olsson Skjaeret (Chiropractor)
Ineke Unsworth (Assistant Manager)
Photo credit: Jun Tanlayco